Henry Collis and Zipporah (Chandler) Rice were both born and raised, lived and died, in Madison County, North Carolina in the heart of Appalachia. They are both buried in Rice Cove, a family cemetery. Their ancestors came from England, perhaps some from Scotland. Folklorist Bascom Lamar Lundsford called Madison County “the last stand of the natural people.” In 1917, ethnomusicologist Cecil Sharp described life in Madison County in his book English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians:
The region is from its inaccessibility a very secluded one. There are but few roads – most of them little better than mountain tracks – and practically no railroads. Indeed, so remote and shut off from outside influence were, until quite recently, these sequestered mountain valleys that the inhabitants have for a hundred years or more been completely isolated and cut off from all traffic with the rest of the world.
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